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stevenb's avatar

How do you deal with rude people without stooping to rudeness youself?

Asked by stevenb (3836points) June 29th, 2008 from iPhone

I have a relative who seems to think that bluntness and rudeness are a good way to speak to people. He was once told that it was nice to be told the truth without him worrying about the persons feelings. Since being told that he is rather ruthless to people and drives a lot of people away. I have to be around him alot and he us not that way with me, but it is unbearble to listen to him talk to others that way. He also thinks that people only call him for favors, and not to talk, which could be true to a point. He puts people down for almost everything they do, say, buy, build, drive, say, or think. I feel bad for him because he is alienating people, and always has to tell people how HE would have done whatever they did better or in a better way, etc. How would you deal with this? His wife is a bit heavier now than when they got married, and he harrasses her so so badly and so rudely that I can hardly stand it. She takes it, which I think is awefull on her part, but what can I do? Your help is much appreciated.

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20 Answers

arnbev959's avatar

Not much you can do without stooping to rudeness yourself. That could be all he needs though. Tell him bluntly and rudely to quit talking shit to people, and if he doesn’t tell him you’re going to be that way with him.

I once knew someone who would ignore me if I asked him a question that he didn’t feel like answering. Once I started ignoring him he stopped.

marinelife's avatar

Remember that you cannot change another person’s behavior. All you can do is change your own. What do you do in response to his hateful talk? Are you silent so that your relative thinks you approve or do not mind what he is doing?

What about saying, “Today, for a change, we are all going to follow the rule that if you cannot say something nice about someone, you must say nothing at all. Each time anyone is caught saying something negative about someone or something that is hurtful, the speaker will be fined $1.00. At the end of the evening, all the money will go to charity.”

Or you could say, “Let’s play a game. Each one of us will pretend we don’t know the others. We will introduce our companion to everyone by telling everyone one great thing we know about this person. Then everyone moves one chair over, and we do it again.”

By focusing the tenor of the conversation on the positive, your negative relative is not called on the carpet and made defensive, but hopefully will be forced to speak in a more positive way. If he still is mean, speak up! This cannot exist in a vacuum. He surely does not talk about people at work that way, or he would be fired. He is a bully and a coward.

babygalll's avatar

Kill them with kindness.

bulbatron9's avatar



elchoopanebre's avatar

Legitimate kindness, though.

aaronou's avatar

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” As this is a pretty general rule it may have some difficulties in applying to very specific circumstances, but it seems to hold a kernel of truth nonetheless. And it’s clearly easier said than done. It’s worth a shot though.

jcs007's avatar

Punch their jaw. It’s not rude, just plain mean.

Trance24's avatar

I am going to have to say you must fight fire with fire.

babygalll's avatar

If you are going to pour gasoline on the fire it’s just going to get bigger and you will not accomplish anything.

jcs007's avatar

@babygall: You’ll accomplish a very large, roaring fire. While it may be burning everything it touches, at least it’s entertaining. =)

tinyfaery's avatar

I think your relative is this guy I know. Since I am obligated to see this person on a fairly regular basis, I use an ignore and redirect method. If you ignore the rude comment, and instead respond to the “point” of the tirade, in a reasonable and rational manner, he/she will often follow your conversational pattern; he/she will model your affect.

However, when it becomes too much, and sometimes it does, I always excuse myself to go the bathroom or get a drink. When I return I change the subject to something completely benign.

Good luck!

stevenb's avatar

Thats the funny part though, I am almost the only person he isn’t really bad to. I hear him be bad to other people and have to ignore it. I know if I say too much he will get mad and it will be hard to work together. I can’t get anyone he is rude to too say anything. They know he will get mad and hold a grudge. He is the most sensitive insensitive person ever. I think it must be an insecurity thing. He is always saying I have him beat on one thing, the fact that everyone says what a nice guy I am. He just doesn’t see why.

ninjaxmarc's avatar

smile and compliments.

Followed by more.

Then turn your back on them.

You shouldn’t have to entertain a person like that.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I know it’s hard to confront people on their bad behavior, especially if you don’t want it directed at you. However, I could see myself getting so fed up with his mistreatment of others that I get blunt back at him and civilly lay it out. :)

Could you say something like, “Since you value honesty so much, I have to tell you that your brusqueness really hurts people’s feelings”?

As for general people, I also use the ignore and redirect method. I just pretend I didn’t notice and push forward in a practical, civil manner. A fair amount of the time, it seems to snap people out of whatever nastiness they’re feeling. I refuse to reinforce bad social behavior like unnecessary rudeness, so if the rudeness doesn’t stop, I make it very clear with my tone and body language that I’ve gone completely cold on them. Not rude back, civil enough, but just giving them nothing in return. I have perfected a particular manner that accomplishes this very well.

I used this latter tactic with my current boss, who came into the job as a new guy and right away was treating everyone rather crappily. I saw his behavior and immediately knew that I would never accept this from him. So I employed my learning in psych and animal behavior and used a little psychological warfare. In every engagement I had with him when he was rude, I employed my cold “manner” and whenever he was kind and funny, I reinforced it by being extremely warm and enthusiastic. It still amuses me how quickly he got it, even if it was subconscious and we never had to talk about it, and he’s still kinder and funnier with me than with anyone else. :)

Trustinglife's avatar

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned yet… outrageous curiosity.

Like a 5-year-old. How did he come to be so blunt? Who told him not to consider other people’s feelings? Why did he believe them? Does he notice how people respond? Does he care? How does his wife feel about his criticisms? What’s it like to be him?

Knotmyday's avatar

Adress the issue directly. Tell him he’s being rude, and furthermore that you will not allow demeaning behavior in your presence.

Apparently he takes advice to heart.

Mrs_Dr_Frank_N_Furter's avatar

Omg. I have a funny story. It’s too long to say, so I’ll sum it up. I was at the airport in the boreding room and this guy starting saying how I shouldn’t love tim curry as much as I do now. He’s like if you saw him on the street and didn’t know who he was, would you still like him? Luckily there was a lady next to me that backed me up. All you do is ignore them.

stevenb's avatar

His wife sadly takes his criticism as gospel and feels fat and stupid etc. She closes down and doesn’t fight back. He has been bossy since childhood, and now has a serious superiority complex. I don’t want his daughter to think it is ok for a man to treat her like that.

Knotmyday's avatar

Man, what a giant stinkeroonie. Time for a serious intervention. I don’t envy you.

airairariel's avatar

i absolutely refuse to associate with people who are like that. it’s absolutely horrible and unnecessary. if i even have to be in the same room as one, i am cold and short with them.

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